Virtual meetings are a convenient way to conduct initial interviews. Unfortunately, remote interviews can also increase a recruiter’s vulnerability to cyberattacks.

Cybercriminals are always seeking new attack vectors, and one surprising avenue for attack is through virtual meeting backgrounds. Both recruiters and candidates need to be aware of the risks associated with using virtual backgrounds, and of what each can do to ensure remote interview security.

Cybercrimes Through Virtual Backgrounds

Cybercriminals can exploit virtual backgrounds to conduct various crimes through techniques that compromise digital environments. Here are a few ways they might use them:

  • Social engineering: Crafted virtual backgrounds might contain elements designed to manipulate individuals. A fake recruiter or job candidate can use Zoom to create scenarios that deceive the other party, tricking them into divulging confidential information or compromising security measures.
  • Eavesdropping: Virtual backgrounds could enable eavesdropping on virtual meetings. Cybercriminals may embed tools that allow them to intercept audio or video feeds, compromising the confidentiality of conversations and potentially gaining access to sensitive information.
  • Malware distribution: While distributing virtual backgrounds through seemingly innocuous channels, cybercriminals can embed malware within the image. When users set these backgrounds, the malware could infiltrate the system, providing unauthorized access or facilitating other malicious activities.
  • Exploiting visual information: Virtual backgrounds may unintentionally reveal clues about a user’s environment. Cybercriminals can analyze these details to gather intelligence for targeted attacks, such as identifying valuable assets or exploiting weaknesses in a user’s security setup.
  • Phishing attacks: Cybercriminals may design virtual backgrounds with embedded phishing links. In 2022, phishing attacks saw a substantial 61% increase over six months compared to the previous year. When users download or interact with these backgrounds, they unwittingly expose themselves to phishing attacks, leading to the theft of sensitive information.

Recruiters must exercise due diligence, treating virtual backgrounds as more than just aesthetic choices. Ensure the candidates know the potential risks and encourage them to choose ones that don’t inadvertently reveal sensitive information.

Recruiter’s Cybersecurity Checklist

To help keep remote interviews secure and safeguard confidential data, recruiters can create a robust cybersecurity checklist to follow for every meeting. Checklist items should include:

  • Secure virtual meeting links: Treat meeting links like digital keys to a confidential space. Since the start of 2020, Zoom has gained approximately 2.22 million new users. Restrict access by ensuring the links are shared only with intended participants, reducing the risk of unauthorized entry.
  • Restrict screen sharing: Prevent inadvertent data exposure by limiting screen sharing capabilities. These simple steps add a layer of protection, reducing the chances of unintentionally sharing confidential information.
  • Utilize waiting rooms: Act as the gatekeeper of the virtual meeting by using waiting rooms. This allows for vetting participants before granting access, mitigating the risk of uninvited guests or potential cyber threats.
  • Blurring background: This feature on any platform is a visual safeguard, preventing unintended exposure of confidential information in the environment.

Best Practices for Virtual Interviews

Here are a few invaluable practices for ensuring the security of virtual meetings. Consider using these tips to prevent a Zoom-background-initiated hack before it happens rather than after.

Password Protection

Elevating cybersecurity defenses through password protection is crucial for maintaining the integrity of virtual interviews. When setting up password-protected virtual meetings, consider implementing strong password policies. Encourage using complex passwords that combine uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. Additionally, regularly change passwords to enhance security.

Furthermore, you should educate participants about safeguarding their meeting credentials. Emphasize the need to avoid sharing passwords and encourage using unique passwords for each virtual meeting to minimize the risk of unauthorized access.

Monitor Participant Activities

Observing participant activities is a proactive measure to ensure a focused and secure virtual environment. Leverage platform features such as Zoom’s participant monitoring capabilities to track attendee engagement during the interview.

This monitoring can help identify and address potential disruptions. It ensures the conversation remains confidential and free from external interference.

Consider designating a team member to focus specifically on participant engagement, allowing the attendees to concentrate on the candidate. This collaborative approach enhances the overall security and effectiveness of the process.

Regularly Update Software

Staying ahead of potential vulnerabilities involves more than routine software updates — it requires a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity. In addition to updating video conferencing software, regularly review and assess the security features offered by the platform.

Stay informed about the latest security developments and advisories related to the chosen software. Establish a schedule for software updates and ensure all team members know the importance of promptly applying patches. These efforts help fortify virtual interviews against emerging threats and optimize the software’s security features.

Identify the Authentic Applicant

Navigating fake job applicants requires a combination of vigilance, thoroughness and technological integration. Scrutinize resumes and applications with a discerning eye. Look for inconsistencies, such as gaps in employment history or mismatched skills. Fraudulent applicants may attempt to establish their qualifications, but a thorough review can reveal red flags.

Implement robust verification processes to validate candidate information. This may include contacting previous employers, checking educational credentials and confirming professional certifications. Verifying the legitimacy of a candidate’s background ensures engaging with genuine professionals.

Pay attention to communication patterns. Authentic candidates typically maintain consistent and professional communication throughout the hiring process. Be wart of applicants who exhibit erratic behavior or provide vague responses to inquiries.

Embrace technological solutions to aid in candidate verification. Background checks, online presence assessments and even AI-driven tools can assist in confirming the legitimacy of applicants, adding an extra layer of security to the hiring process.

Unseen Risks in Remote Interviews

Cybercriminals are clever at using virtual backgrounds to do bad things online. Recruiters must know that these backgrounds can hide risks like scams and trickery.

The online world has many dangers, from fake messages to tricky schemes. If recruiters learn about these risks and use smart strategies, they can ensure their virtual spaces are safe and secure for interviewing candidates.

Zac Amos

Zac Amos is the Features Editor at ReHack, where he covers business technology, cybersecurity, and other trending tech topics. For more of his work, follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.